Building An Eco-Friendly Home? Consider Green Roofing

Posted on: 17 December 2015

Though the term "green roofing" is sometimes loosely used to refer to any eco-friendly roofing option, it actually refers to a specific type of roof. Green roofs are roofs upon which vegetation are grown. They consist of a specialized roofing membrane, a planting substrate (soil) and plants. Green roofs offer many advantages for homeowners hoping to design eco-friendly homes. Here's a closer look.

What advantages do green roofs offer to homeowners?

Green roofs have an excellent insulating ability. In cold weather, they trap in more heat than other types of roofs, so your heating bills will be lower. In the summer, the plants form a barrier between the hot sunlight and the underlying roofing membrane, and thus your home stays cooler (and your air conditioner does not have to work as hard).

If you live in a wetter environment where roof runoff contributes to a wet lawn and problems with your septic system, a green roof is a great choice. Much of the water will be absorbed into the roofing substrate rather than running off the roof—this will lead to a dryer yard. Any water that does drain off the roof will do so slowly, giving your yard time to absorb it.

Because green roofs are an eco-friendly choice, they can help you meet certain green building standards, which may make you eligible for tax credits. A roofing contractor can tell you more about the specific tax credits available in your area.

What advantages do green roofs offer to the environment?

In addition to reducing the burning of fossil fuels by decreasing the energy demands of your home, green roofs are great for air quality. The plants on your green roof will absorb carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) from the air, and give off valuable oxygen. Plants on green roofs also help absorb pollutants from the air, which is especially important if you live in a populated area. By choosing a green roof, you will be helping to improve the air quality for humans and animals in your community.

Green roofs are also known for helping to support biodiversity. They may give various species of insects, whose natural habitat may be threatened by changing conditions and urbanization, a place to thrive. This is especially true if you choose native plants (those that are naturally found in your region) for your green roof. Because they absorb less heat than black asphalt roofs, green roofs also reduce that is known as the "urban heat island effect"—a phenomenon in which urban places are warmer than the countryside because there are so many dark surfaces within them. This heating can make the area inhospitable to species of plants and animals that once lived there. If you live in a populated area, choosing a green roof is a way of doing your part to keep the area cool and habitable for native species.

What maintenance to green roofs require?

Some homeowners steer clear of green roofs because they think a lot of maintenance will be involved. However, when installed correctly, green roofs don't require an exorbitant amount of maintenance. Choose plants with low water requirement, like sedums, and you won't have to worry about irrigation unless there is a prolonged drought. The roofing substrate will hold on to moisture after it does rain, so the plants have an ongoing water supply.

Perennial plants will be used, so you do not have to re-plant the roof on a regular basis. They'll keep coming up year after year. You may have to re-seed the roof occasionally if there is a long period of drought, but this is a simple process.

You will also have to keep a close eye on the drainage channels, clearing them of debris from time to time. However, this is no harder than cleaning the gutters on a regular roof.

Is a green roof the right choice for your home? Talk to a roofing contractor like Drey Roofing to learn more.